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There's Gold in 'Them Thar' Oregon Hills and Streams: Nope, They Didn't Get it All

There's Still Gold in 'Them Thar Hills'

  • This article is all about how to pan for gold, especially in the state of Oregon because several places have been set aside in Oregon for recreational gold panning. And, with the price of gold, maybe we ALL ought to be out there panning, since most of the gold in this planet is still in the ground. No, in the days of the gold rush, they did NOT get it all.
  • So, gather up your Oregon map and the other supplies listed below and get out there and start panning for gold! It is loads of fun and can be very profitable.

Nope, they didn't get it all!

Sure looks like gold to me!

Sure looks like gold to me!

Take the First Step!

  • The first thing you have to do is buy a gold pan. They are available in prospecting stores everywhere. The perfect gold pans are flat bottomed, usually about two to three inches deep, with the sides sloping at an angle of about 45 degrees, and should be at least 15 inches in diameter. Pans are also available at some department stores and places where they sell mining equipment. But why drive around looking; you can always find them on the internet.
  • Once you have your gold pan in hand, look for a location along a stream in a known gold-bearing area. What you will be looking for is called a gold trap, which is a place along the stream where the current slows down enough for gold to settle out.
  • Some great places to look are the insides of curves of streams (called point bars), areas where streams have overflowed, and on the downstream sides of boulders or other obstructions in the water.

Learn to Do It the Correct Way! A Pro Shows You How!

Step-by-Step Instructions for Panning for Gold

Note: Gold is heavier than most sediments and gravel in a stream, and because of that, it and other heavy minerals called "black sands" (including pyrite, magnetite, ilmenite, chromite, and garnet) can be collected in a gold pan when the right panning techniques are used.

Here are some step-by-step instructions for gold panning that I hope you will find useful:

  • First, fill your gold pan about half full of soil from your location. Put the pan under water and break up lumps of clay, then discard the stones. Holding the pan level under water (one hand on the left side and one hand on the right side) rotate it halfway back and forth quickly to wash out the clay so that the heavy material in concentrated at the bottom of the pan. Still with the pan under water, tilt it forward and down just a bit (away from your body). Rotate and shake it in order to get the light gravel and sand to seep out at the front of the gold pan.
  • Push the top material and large chunks of rock out with your thumbs. Keep repeating the steps until a deposit of fine-grained dark material overlain by a smaller layer of light material remains at the bottom of the pan.
  • Take the pan out of the stream and rotate it in a circular motion, and watch what happens. The water will separate the lighter material from the heavier material. Gold, if there is any there and you are panning properly, will be lagging behind the other material at the bottom of the pan.
  • Stop the rotation and if you are one of the fortunate prospectors, you will see a few flecks of gold in the material that remains in the bottom of the pan. Slowly, drain out the water and let the black sand and gold dry. Lift out most of the black sand using a magnet, and separate the gold from the rest of the sediment using eyebrow tweezers.
  • Deposit your gold in a plastic baggie and when you have enough of it, start looking for a buyer (they are not hard to find)!


  • Gold panning is permitted on nearly all streams and rivers running through campgrounds on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and USDA Forest Service (USFS) land in Oregon.
  • Maps showing locations of campgrounds may be obtained from local offices of BLM and USFS. If you would like to contact the BLM in Portland, Oregon, by phone, call 503-808-6002.
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Apparently, Oregon Is Not the Only Place With Gold!

You Have to Know Where to Look!

© 2011 Mike and Dorothy McKenney


Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on March 06, 2018:

That’s great! We did some panning when we were kids but with no luck. They were good memories though. Thanks! I’m going to check out your articles on the old west later today.

Scott Gese on March 05, 2018:

My parents panned for gold along Quartzville creek. We would camp at Yellowbottom campgrounds. It was great fun. My brothers and I fished the holes for native rainbow trout along the small creek while my dad panned and my mom relaxed in the sun. Oh the memories.

Did my dad find gold? you bet.

flipu4it from Washington on May 19, 2011:

I knew there was gold in them thar hills. Good stuff.

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